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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Clinical Cancer Research, Volume 24, Issue 6, March 2018, Pages 1271-1276.

The published version is available at Copyright © American Association for Cancer Research


Concurrent chemoradiation (cCRT) with platinum-based chemotherapy is standard-of-care therapy for patients with stage III unresectable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Although cCRT is potentially curative, 5-year overall survival has hovered around 20%, despite extensive efforts to improve outcomes with increasing doses of conformal radiation and intensification of systemic therapy with either induction or consolidation chemotherapy. PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated unprecedented efficacy in patients with stage IV NSCLC. In addition, preclinical and early clinical evidence suggests that chemotherapy and radiation may work synergistically with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy to promote antitumor immunity, which has led to the initiation of clinical trials testing these drugs in patients with stage III NSCLC. A preliminary report of a randomized phase III trial, the PACIFIC trial, demonstrated an impressive increase in median progression-free survival with consolidative durvalumab, a PD-L1 inhibitor, compared with observation after cCRT. Here, we discuss the clinical and translational implications of integrating PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors in the management of patients with unresectable stage III NSCLC.

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